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Distracted by a poorly crafted ad

December 13, 2010|By Gary Huerta

I love those demolished cars that have been placed on the medians around town over the last few weeks. They are sober reminders of the fatal consequences of distracted driving.

Looking at those mangled vehicles, it's easy to imagine the pandemonium and horror of the original accident scene and how much sorrow and loss the victims' families felt then and probably still suffer though every day. I take my hat off to those individuals in our city who were responsible for launching the education and enforcement "Driven 2 Distraction?" campaign.

Since distracted driving is such a huge problem these days, maybe the city ought to consider expanding this effort to include harsh reminders at spots where people and bicyclists have been run over. Something like painting outlines of bodies on the sidewalk. In keeping with the wrecked automobiles, it would be more impactful than the officer in the pink bunny costume we see every time the city wants to remind drivers to be on the lookout for pedestrians.

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In stark contrast, just this weekend I saw a McDonalds commercial that used distracted driving as a way to peddle its food. In the spot, a family has just picked up their food from the drive-through window. A teenage boy sits behind the wheel while his father seems to be imparting the importance of keeping one's eyes on the road. He provides these instructions as he begins rummaging through the bag of food. Then, for some inexplicable reason, the father "accidentally" waves his lunch in front of the boy's nose.

Personally, I have never had the desire to hold a hamburger in front of a driver's face. But I could be in the minority. The end result is a teenager, guiding 2,000 pounds of rolling metal down the road, distracted by two all-beef patties, special sauce and the rest of the trimmings.

Amusing? Not so much. Socially responsible? Not at all.

I like high-concept advertising as much as the next guy, and maybe even more considering I've forged the majority of my adult career as a copywriter in advertising. That said, I realize I am also more critical of what ends up getting produced than most. And I am quick to realize when I am not the intended audience of an ad message.

But I wonder in this case, who is the intended audience? What is McDonalds really trying to say? More importantly, wasn't anyone in the long, arduous process of getting this commercial produced aware that this isn't an appropriate subject to satirize?

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